Warrington Borough Council is developing a name as an entrepreneurial public body with a growing reputation for innovation. The town has seen the transfer of its housing stock to Golden Gates, an award-winning housing association, which is part of the Torus Group. Sitting alongside this new business is Catalyst Choices which was established in 2015 to deliver adult social care services to around 700 customers across Warrington.

Catalyst Choices was set up to meet four challenges:

  • Warrington’s increasing ageing population
  • Ongoing pressure on public resources, especially around care and health
  • Come up with innovative ways to meet the demands of its client base
  • To expand its resource base by growing the business.

Catalyst Choices inherited a traditional business structure with fixed resource patterns. As Managing Director, I felt that modernising business practises and operations was the key to responding to these challenges. Working with Housing Support Pro, we identified a number of areas which had to be tackled if Catalyst was to become a leading care provider.

I knew we had to look at our employment practices, skills sets and support services including HR, financial services, payroll, administrative systems, productivity, performance information and technology base. I felt that we could get more from our existing resources as the basis for growing and modernising our business.

I was aware that Housing Support Pro had a track record of delivering similar transformation programmes within the public sector. Housing Support Pro was engaged to help transform existing technology infrastructure and systems, to reduce operating costs, as well as identifying and implementing innovative business solutions.

The strategy

Housing Support Pro began by carrying out a detailed review of the existing IT infrastructure. This review provided a basis for reducing support service costs, a platform for engaging remote sites and employees, establishing a business partnership model using new ICT infrastructure platforms.

Housing Support Pro provided Catalyst Choices with a fully managed, integrated IT service, covering software, hardware and support. Using its market insight and procurement expertise, Housing Support Pro has identified systems that meet Catalysts requirements and make financial savings. These include:

  • migrating payroll from Warrington Borough Council’s system onto a new account management system with Sage 200, then Sage HR and further migration into Sage CRM, assisting with managing Catalyst Choices’ entire contact base in one place
  • introducing a SharePoint intranet, which integrates with Office 365
  • putting all manual records online to improve workflow efficiencies and reduce administration costs
  • reducing support costs means that Catalyst has been able to appoint a business development director to lead on growing Catalyst Choices.

The results

With the introduction of these new IT systems, Catalyst Choices has brought a number of services in-house. For example, absenteeism can be reported to the board and the business development director now has more detail to provide a more commercial approach to customer enquiries.

Catalyst Choices is examining new ways that technology can continue to support its business. For example, iHome247 monitors, which enable independent living, have been piloted by Catalyst Choices as a well-being monitoring solution for supporting domiciliary or home care.

By March 2018, Catalyst Choices will be self-sufficient with ICT business process functionality:

  • The care provider was also able to redeploy three administration staff, with an improved productivity rate for staff from 80% to up to 90%
  • With the introduction of smartphones and iPads, staff can now access online forms from any location, reducing strain on admin services by 10% and enabling them to visit more customers per day
  • Implementing Sage 200 finance means that Catalyst Choices is on target to make 20% efficiency gains
  • New state-of-the-art systems and accurate, comprehensive management information means Catalyst Choices can provide greater assurance against the Care Quality Commission ratings, and
  • They are well on the way to realising 20% efficiency gains from its support services.

How has this improved the services to customers?

These efficiency gains provide customers with enhanced and deeper levels of services from Catalyst Choices’ staff, who are enabled to spend more time with them.

Colleagues are:

  • Better prepared and empowered to deliver a consistent, quality service
  • Enabled to provide more in-depth support for customers, from the freeing up of resources.

Exposing managers and colleagues to new, technology based solutions is helping to put innovation, quality and productivity at the heart of our business.